Examples of excellence

MARSHALL – Marshall High School juniors Sara Antony and Sam Marshall have their schedules packed full of activities, but they don’t mind.

The two are nominees for the Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership (ExCEL) award, which is sponsored by the Minnesota State High School League.

According to the criteria from the Minnesota State High School League, to be eligible for the award, students must:

be a junior in high school

make a satisfactory progress toward graduation requirements

participate a League-sponsored fine arts and/or athletic activity

hold a leadership position in their school

work voluntarily in their community

  • meet MSHSL general eligibility requirements

Marshall Schools Director of Activities Bruce Remme said that coaches, advisers and directors are asked to nominate students who would meet the criteria, and they came up with a list of 16 students. The students then submit an application, write an essay about a volunteer experience and how the experience benefited themselves and others. Remme said the application committee reviews the applications and makes a final decision on one female student and one male student.

Both Antony and Marshall are involved in extracurricular activities with their school and their community. Antony is on the varsity hockey and track teams and was involved in volleyball. She is also in speech, the National Honor Society, the Link Crew and Born to Be Alive/Yellow Ribbon. Marshall is on the varsity football team and was elected captain this past season and is involved in track. He is also in marching band, winter drumline, pep band and took part in choir. Antony has helped out with youth introduction to hockey and track programs, serving as a coach and manager as well as being a youth leader for Vacation Bible School, helping out in her church and assisting in the influenza clinic and vision and hearing tests. Marshall is part of Marshall ACTS and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, was on the music team for Vacation Bible School at his church, helps out as a sound system operator for church services and was a huddle leader for FCA mini youth camp.

“I just like to be busy,” Antony said, adding that she enjoys the activities that are in her schedule.

“It’s good to stay busy, and it’s nice to be involved in a different variety of activities,” Marshall said.

MHS band teacher Wayne Ivers wrote a letter of recommendation for Marshall, saying that Marshall is extremely involved in football and marching band, which are two activities that compete in the same season.

“Not only does Sam perform well, but he excels at both of these activities and is looked to by all members and staff as a leader in each,” Ivers wrote in the nomination letter.

Marshall served as a section leader in percussion, Ivers said, and had two brand new members in the section.

“Through his leadership, patience and hard work and his great ability to teach and relate to these young men, they were able to accomplish great things and compete at a very high level, something that would have been extremely difficult for them had Sam not taken the time and effort to help them at every turn,” Ivers said.

“It’s extremely busy, but you make time for it,” Marshall said about balancing football and marching band in the fall. He would have football one night, compete with marching band the next day and then do homework on Sunday, he said.

Pam Fier-Hansen, science teacher at MHS, said Antony is a dedicated and hardworking student who is an excellent role mode and “provided positive leadership in the classroom.”

“Sara is always prepared for class and would ask good questions,” Fier-Hansen wrote in her nomination letter. “She was always willing to help other students who were having difficulty. My physical science class was a particularly challenging group because over half of the class were either English Language Learners or special education students. Sara would complete her own work and then help others that were struggling with the material. Often she would step forward to do this without any direction from me.”

Fier-Hansen also mentioned Antony’s leadership involvement with the Link Crew, which provides support for new freshmen, and the Yellow Ribbon Committee, which works on suicide prevention.

“I think it’s a good cause, to get out as much information as you can, to get the information out to the community,” Antony said about the Yellow Ribbon committee.

For her essay, Antony wrote about her church’s youth group doing a mission trip to Kansas City with the Catholic Heart Work Camp. She assisted with a childcare facility for financially challenged families.

“During my experience, I got to share my faith and get to know many of the staff and kids attending the childcare facility,” Antony said in her essay. “Other members of my group worked in food shelves and rebuilt houses. The trip showed me how blessed I am and taught me to be grateful for everything I have…I learned a lot about becoming a respectable leader and how to motivate and make others feel welcomed. My trip inspired me to participate in more volunteer opportunities in my own community.”

Marshall talked about his time as an FCA huddle leader for his essay. He said it turned out to be one of his most rewarding choices he made as it “allowed him the opportunity to impact mentor kids in their faith, sports and character.”

“All the children were different, some being shy, some extremely active, some very impressionable and all with different backgrounds,” Marshall wrote. “I soon realized that not only did they listen to what I said, they also watched what I did. I felt they looked up to me, which was very humbling and taught me how easily kids can be influenced, especially if they are following the wrong role models. Being an FCA huddle leader has taught me the importance of putting character, integrity and faith in all things that I do. I understand that decisions I make are not ‘just about me.'”

Antony and Marshall said they appreciated the nomination.

“It is an honor to be recognized by Marshall High School for this award,” Marshall said.

“It was just a big honor to be chosen because there’s a lot of strong applicants,” Antony said.